How to get there: Find Battle Point Park. Then exit the park at the north gate onto Frey Road, walk east down the hill 20 yards and find the trailhead across the street. Casual bicyclists: Go the long way by Battle Point Drive, or Tolo/Arrow Point will punish you but good.
Why you should go: You’re at Battle Point Park for the millionth time anyway. Why not see something different? Fairy Dell Trail offers a pleasant hike through a wooded ravine and respite from the summer heat, with a little slice of island history in the mix. Leave the island’s busiest park for a few minutes, and try a path less traveled.
The easy, half-mile trail crisscrosses the long furrow of a seasonal stream via a series of stout, Eagle Scout footbridges. Throughout your descent to the water you never get too far away from it all, as various private homes loom high over the ravine through the trees. The ecosystem is a mixed affair, alternately sublime and blighted; you’ll be flanked by a glorious sea of ferns on one slope and a bleak ivy desert on the other, then 20 yards farther along they’ll have swapped sides. Ancient fir and cedar stumps are your waypoints.
Trail’s end down a flight of stone steps is a bit of a miasma, mucky and sometimes acrid. But duck under the low-hanging overgrowth to find a tide flat sprawling endlessly before you at low water. Keyport lies ahead in the distance, the jagged rim of the Olympics to the left, and you can make out the Agate Pass Bridge to your right for a panoramic view indeed. Just don’t wear your good shoes.
Here’s another reason to go: to say you’ve been on one of the island’s oldest dedicated public trails, maybe the oldest. Fairy Dell was staked out around 1909, when today’s Battle Point was platted as a vacation community called Venice. Dozens of teeny-tiny lots for cabins and campsites would bring the summer throngs, or so the plan went.
For a time it worked, thanks to the Venice ferry pier – hence the trail down to the water – one of many such Mosquito Fleet landings serving then-remote corners like this. An improved road system helped the island cohere into a single community; the first automobile landed on Bainbridge Island in 1923, and by 1927 there were 1,300 of them scooting around, putting the neighborhood within easier reach of homesteaders.
The ferry pier fell away and with it the dream of Venice, vacation mecca of Bainbridge Island. But the Fairy Dell Trail remains, quiet testament to a day when you probably got here by boat, and your hike started at the water end.
Hike the Fairy Dell Trail, post a few pix on Instagram tagged #12in12biparks and maybe you will win a cool prize.